Dad holds me in a headlock
In a rage, renting tufts of hair off my scalp
With a pair of thin, silver cutting shears.
Hair that I was stroking with my fingers
Enjoying its softness that was newly borne
From a steady and tender Central Valley rain.
His body heat filters though
Clothes covered with sweat, oil and cow shit.
Something about this act is blatantly Greek
An initiatory ritual. A confirmation
A supposed entry into manhood.
I think he sees me as a threat.
My hair an act of defiance
And, out of fear, demanding that I be put
In a subservient place.
I run out of the wooden shed.
Past the pole barn holding
The pregnant cows
All lacking milk.
I run out to the nowhere of the farm
Where the rusting hulks of car and equipment
Are left to die.
I climb into the tan and white Studebaker
Freshly arrived and waiting for its coffin.
On the drivers side, just below the window
I pencil the date on the door
April 17, 1976
Time to cry.
Time to die.
Years later, I think.
Why was this ancient rite done?
Auspicious, though with unconscious intent.
With his heart, mind and body encased in a Parkinson’s tomb.
He did this to me
To get that part of him out of my body.
Declutched from the farm
Unknowing of whether
Dad is alive or dead.
He comes to me in a dream and said,
“Thank you for treating me like a king”